{ESC} BOOK ELEVEN: AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES

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Dear Reader,

On Friday night, my sister and I decided to see Paper Towns. I read this book last summer, loved it, and was ecstatic when I found out that they were turning it into a movie. And I am glad to report that it did not disappoint, and might be my favorite movie of the summer so far.

After it ended, we headed down the street to our local Books-a-Million, where I dropped $78 on books and road maps (I was very influenced by this movie). But one of the books I picked up was another John Green book, An Abundance of Katherines. I had no idea what it was about, but I like John Green, and I own all of his other books, and it was $10. So I bought it and read it within 12 hours. And here’s what I thought.

First of all, it’s a very weird premise. This child prodigy has been dumped by 19 Katherines, and, in fact, has never dated anyone by another name. Bizarre, right? And I really don’t want to spoil it (though there’s not much to spoil), so I won’t say much else about the actual plot. But I will say that the characters were very interesting and it was very informative. I feel like I know a lot more random facts that I found interesting (even if the supporting character, Hassan did not).

But here’s the thing: it’s a John Green novel. So, if you like stories that follow the same formula as Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska, you’ll like this one. There’s a boy who really doesn’t do much. He’s not necessarily opposed to adventures–I mean, he’ll certainly follow the main female character into one without question–but he’s just used to staying home. And then he falls in love with this quirky, interesting, intelligent, beautiful girl.

That’s really all I can say without giving away the ending, but if you asked me if I would recommend it, I still probably would. It has tons of overlaps with his other stuff (the above formula, discussion about oblivion like in The Fault in Our Stars, characters obsessed with road trips), but there were still some interesting differences from AAOK that I enjoyed. I especially liked the last bit about the stories we tell and how they can impact people.

So, I’ll give it 3 stars, and probably won’t be dying to read it again any time soon, but it certainly wasn’t a waste of time. Parts of this story will definitely stick with me.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

{ESC} BOOK TEN: A WORK IN PROGRESS

Dear Reader,

I finished this book a while ago but didn’t write a review on it right away, so I ended up forgetting about it. And, actually, that pretty much sums up the experience I had while reading it. It was fine. Some of the advice given might be worth hearing (if you haven’t heard it before). But overall, it was pretty forgettable.

This is the first book I’ve read that was written by a YouTuber, and only because I got it as a gift. But I was a big Connor Franta fan for a while. He’s constantly cheerful and ambitious and is always ready for an adventure, or able to turn something into a good story–characteristics I find admirable in anyone.

But in his writing, I started getting kind of annoyed. Mostly because every chapter ended with a piece of advice–and one that I had already heard before. One that everyone has heard before. Things like “go for it” and “chase your dreams” and “look up from your phone every once in a while.” Not bad advice, by any means, but it was also the way he said it that bothered me. I felt like Connor was the annoying brother who, just because he’s a few years older, feels qualified to pass on all of his wisdom. But he’s only 22, and while he has done more than most guys his age, I found myself annoyed when, at the end of each chapter, without fail, there was some corny sentence along the lines of “What are you waiting for? Start climbing.”

That’s an actual concluding sentence from one of his chapters.

Another is: Time to hop on that high-speed train.

And another says: Start living today, not tomorrow.

And: So what are you waiting for? Let go, my friend.

Do you get my point?

But he knows that he’s young and that he still has a lot to learn–which is part of the reason why he titled it “A Work in Progress.” So maybe I’m being too hard on him. I mean, if was writing my memoirs at this age, I’d have no idea what I would say.

So, I don’t think this is going to be my favorite book written by a YouTuber, and I still have hope for those written by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Mamrie Hart and a lot others (but those two specifically). And if you can get past the lame advice and want a visually pleasing book (the pictures are great) with amusing stories that will take a day to read, then this is probably for you.

But for me, I’ll just sick with giving him 3 stars out of five and continue to watch the occasional collabs with him.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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{ESC} BOOK NINE: DIRTY RUSH

Dear Reader,

I’ll admit it: I love this book. Let me tell you why.

According to Rebecca Martinson, this book “fucking tells is like it fucking is.” Unfamiliar with that name? She’s also known as the “deranged sorority girl.” The one who wrote an email to her entire chapter, threatening to “cunt punt” them for being boring and undesirable to frat boys. You can find a hilarious reading of this letter by Michael Shannon here.

So I was scared that a girl who seems to care so much about such pointless, judgmental things claims that this is a book that actually tells the real truth on sorority life. But, it kind of does.

Now, I’ve only been with my sorority for a semester, and I’ll admit that I didn’t relate to about half of what this “Taylor Bell” experienced, but that’s not saying that it doesn’t happen. I’ve talked to girls in other sororities who have group messages that are dedicated to getting adderall and cocaine. And hazing is still a very prevalent thing in greek life, even though I’m fortunate enough to truthfully tell you all that I was in no way hazed.

But this book actually did have some good morals, and the ending was great. I love that the main character, Taylor, was so nonjudgmental, and even most of the other characters stayed that way, too. Plus, the friendships she made were true and even the clichéd theme of sisterhood was portrayed really well.

So yeah, it’s kind of weird that this book was as refreshing to me as it was, and yeah there are certain aspects of it that I didn’t so much enjoy (like how everything was “crystal cute”), but it was a quick read, and a book that I’ll definitely lend to my friends. And then ask for it back so I can read it again.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK EIGHT: LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED

Some of my favorite books to read are autobiographies–especially those written by women. The ones that shatter the ridiculously outdated notion that women are not funny. To anyone who may still think this way, I’m sure you’ve been encouraged to read those of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler. Theirs could all gladly prove you wrong. But here’s another suggestion.

Jenny Lawson. Don’t know who that is? I didn’t either, but I continuously saw her book ranked high on the lists, sitting pretty, ahead of some of these greats. So I asked for it for Christmas, knowing nothing more than the fact that this woman is called “The Blogess.”

And now I feel like I know too much. I certainly know more than I had asked for.

But let me tell you: this book may be the funniest book I’ve read to date. I found myself laughing out loud within the first five minutes of sitting down with it. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Lately, I’ve been pretty disappointed with my book choices, so it was great to finally read a 5-star one again.

Lawson’s life has been absolutely ridiculous since her beginning–so ridiculous that I often found myself believing that there’s no way all of this actually happened. But then I thought, okay, if she is making half of this stuff up, I’d still have to give her props, because there’s no one alive with a crazier imagination.

There’s not much I have to say about this book, not because I’m worried about spoiling it, but because you just have to read it for yourself to fully appreciate and try to understand the life of Jenny Lawson.

Yeah, good luck.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK SEVEN: THE MANNY

Dear Reader,

I guess they all can’t be my new favorite book.

The Manny by Holly Peterson really isn’t that bad. I picked it up knowing exactly what it would be: a cute, cliché story. A quick read. A setting in New York City. All of this was enough for me to purchase the book (for $5, mind you) and read it.

So, if you want to read it, be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. I honestly think half the reason why I liked it as much as I did is because I didn’t set high expectations. But then I went online and read some pretty mean reviews. I mean, some people seemed actually offended that they spent time on this book.

Now, some of the criticisms I found to be valid. A lot of people didn’t like the main character–I didn’t mind her, but I can definitely see how she could get on some nerves. Personally, though, I feel that the other characters (like, I don’t know, the manny) were lovable enough to make up for it.

Another criticism I read was about the, ahem, sexy scenes. Now, I’m not one to peruse erotic romance novels. I haven’t purchased or read Fifty Shades of Grey (yet), so I didn’t think they were truly awful. But, again, if you’re expecting hot and heavy scenes full of intense passion that just flies off the page: probably not the book for you.

Overall, though, it was just as I thought it would be. So I give it 3.5 stars and accept that I will probably not be rereading it any time soon.

I did find the ending adorably perfect, though.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK SIX: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

Dear Reader,

This is another review where I’m not going to give anything away because I actually picked it up without knowing anything and I really enjoyed it. So, because I don’t want to spoil anything, I’ll just tell you this:

Read this book if you want a particularly quick read. Read it if you enjoy looking at spooky little pictures that go along with a story. Read it if you like mystery and magic and peculiarity. But don’t read it if you want to be shaking from fear in your bedroom, unable to put it down at 1am.

I really liked it. It was an interesting, well-written story, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel and seeing the movie in 2016. But when I went onto goodreads to give it four stars, I saw that the top four reviews all gave it two.

Confused and curious, I decided to see what their reasons were, and they all seemed to be the same: not scary. Sure, the pictures are creepy enough to send a chill down your back, but sometimes that’s not enough.

Now, I don’t particularly like being scared–partly because I spook easily and partly because I’ve just never seen the appeal of horror stories and films, and even haunted houses for that matter! You want to get an adrenaline rush? Go ride a roller coaster. Don’t give yourself nightmares!

So I say read it. It’s a great book and I’m glad the storyline is to be continued. I’ll definitely be reviewing the sequel once I get around to reading it.

Hopefully Ransom Riggs didn’t read the reviews from goodreads and decide to avenge his reputation and show the critics something truly scary.

If he did you can bet my next review on his work will be far from raving.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FIVE: IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY

Dear Reader,

If you’re just skimming or stopping by: yes. That’s all you need to know. Yes to this book. I. Love. This. Book.

The main character, Craig, is having some problems with depression and finds himself in an adult mental hospital after almost killing himself one night. I think this is a very important book for anyone to read, whether they’re in high school, out of it, or even way past it. Mental illnesses aren’t always treated as they should–like actual illnesses–which is kind of ridiculous. With so many people struggling with things like depression and anorexia and OCD, we really need to not be ignorant in this topic area.

It’s now to the point where 1 in 5 Americans (yeah I googled it) suffer from a mental illness, yet many aren’t comfortable getting help or even talking about it. And, like Craig, there’s not always a specific reason for why people become depressed or anorexic or what have you. It’s a chemical imbalance, one that doesn’t necessarily occur because of a traumatic event or an extremely difficult life. Just because Craig has a supportive family and is in a good school and is a smart kid doesn’t mean he’s going to be okay, or take everything the same way everyone else does. It’s okay for him to get help. Just like it’s okay for a person with a broken bone to get help from a hospital, it’s okay for someone with a mental illness to, too.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a beautiful, refreshing, and, yeah, funny story. And this part on the last page (after the story) just made me love the book and Ned Vizzini, himself, so much more:

Ned Vizzini spent five days in adult psychiatric in Methodist Hospital, Park Slope, Brooklyn, 11/29/04 – 12/3/04. 

Ned wrote this 12/10/04 – 1/6/05. 

I’ll definitely be looking into this author some more.

Sincerely,

Sammy

BOOK HAUL? (IS THAT WHAT THIS IS?)

Dear Reader,

I’m driving back to school today, which means break is over. And, as you may have realized, I’ve become kind of book-obsessed this winter break. But I don’t think you realize how much.

I have 15 more books than I had 3 weeks ago.

It started on the day of my older sister’s shower. My Aunt recommended a really good local bookstore, so we decided to check it out on our way home.

I left with four books:

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How to be Parisian Wherever You Are

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Bossypants

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and Let it Snow

A few days later, my younger sister and I decided to visit Books a Million. Because why not? And I purchased three more books because there were surprisingly good sales that day:

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Emma – a book I needed for school

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Warm Bodies – a book that was on sale for five dollars! 

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and It’s Kind of a Funny Story – a book that I felt I needed. And I was right.

Then, on the weekend after Christmas, we drove down to Dayton to celebrate with my family. And what did my older sister get me for Christmas? The only thing I asked for, of course–books!

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Bossypants 

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Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

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and Gone with the Wind

I know, I had a major brain fart a week earlier and already bought Bossypants, even though I specifically told Caitlin that it was a book on my list. But, hey, it’s a great book. Having a spare copy isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Anyway, while in the Dayton area, my family decided to make a pit stop at a store called “Half Price Books.”

This. Store.

Oh my gosh, it was amazing. After spending fair chunks of my allowance at Books a Million and Barnes and Noble for all these years, I’ve learned how expensive reading can be.

But this. Store.

I left there with three movies (Baby Mama, American Pie, and Moulin Rouge) and five books for–wait for it…

$39.05.

Tax included.

The lucky picks were:

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The Help

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Nineteen Minutes

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The Manny

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The Ex Files

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and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

In conclusion, I am now fifteen books richer. The books that I’ve read have links to my reviews of them (It’s Kind of a Funny Story coming soon), and I’m currently working on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I don’t normally read two books at once, but I have my reasons in this particular situation (ones I’m not about to delve into right now).

But I have a question for anyone who’s made it this far. Have you read any of these? Which one should I start next? And what books should I add to my growing to-be-read shelf?

DON’T YOU JUST LOVE BOOKS?

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FOUR: BOSSYPANTS

Dear Reader,

Get ready for a very quick review because I have a lot to do today and not a lot to say about this book.

This is not to say that this book is bad in any sense–quite the opposite, actually. It’s great! But, I mean, isn’t that what we’re expecting? People rave about Tina Fey’s autobiography. And this is just another one of those reviews, so I don’t want to waste any more time.

If you’ve never read an autobiography by a comedian (or, should I say, comedienne) before, I highly suggest you start. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler, and now Amy Poehler! They all have books out and they’re all hilarious. I mean, laugh-out-loud-funny. Seriously, don’t read them in public if you’re not comfortable smiling goofily at a book or chuckling to yourself with others around.

And, actually, I can’t even speak for Amy’s because I haven’t read Yes Please yet, but why would it be any different? It’s Amy Poehler.

Which brings me back to Bossypants: it’s Tina Fey. Of course it’s hilarious and charming, while still insightful and, well, informative of her past. It is still a biography.

So, no more time to waste. If you feel like laughing, and especially if you watch 30 Rock or follow Tina’s career in any way, pick up this book. You won’t be sorry.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK THREE: WARM BODIES

Dear Reader,

If there are two things I want you to get from this review it’s this: 1. Warm Bodies is definitely worth the read. And 2. The book is sooooo much better than the movie (shocker).

That actually made me sad, though. I bought the book the same day my sister bought the movie and I read it in a night (it’s a quick read, which I loved). So we watched the movie and, though I adore Nicholas Hoult, I was just mad the whole time. Sarah, on the other hand, had never read the book, so she loved the movie.

But obviously the book is going to go into things that the movie just doesn’t have time for, but that’s what made the book so amazing! I had heard of it before–I knew it was about a zombie who fell in love with a human, but the book explained life before the apocalypse so much better, and it went into the backstories of the characters. I mean, I loved Perry in the book, and his story was heartbreaking, but in the movie he was just a jerk. And we didn’t get to understand why.

Anyway, Warm Bodies is now one of my favorite books. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance story but doesn’t mind a bit of action, blood, guts, and brains, or an insight into our civilization and what might cause its downfall.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. The song for this post is actually from the trailer of Warm Bodies: Lonely Boy – The Black Keys. I hope you enjoy the official music video, which is just a man dancing to the song.